The phrase “guilty pleasure” has always been a bit of a misnomer because there’s rarely any actual guilt associated with whatever it’s attached to. And why should there be? Unless your guilty pleasure is lying, cheating or stealing, it probably doesn’t need to come with an apology. You’re not harming anybody by listening to Flo Rida, so you can end your private session on Spotify, and if you want, you can even share the music video for “My House” on your Facebook wall.
Guilty pleasures aren’t so much indulgences as they are the pieces of ourselves which run counter to how we want others to perceive us. Or worse: They’re the low-hanging pop cultural fruit we use to create an identity, to either blend in with those around us or seem more interesting in comparison. Either way, guilty pleasures are likely just indicative of our own narcissism. Because if we’re feeling so goddamn guilty then why are we so eager to share?
On the flip side, I think we all need to invest less in others’ taste in pop culture if we want to get to know what the true selves of those around us. Ask yourself: Would I rather hang out with someone who genuinely enjoys “Transformers,” or sarcastically dismisses it? And which is more representative of who they are as a person?
This way we can reserve the phrase “guilty pleasure” for things we should actually feel guilty about — for instance, enjoying Woody Allen movies.